A Canadian Industrial music
are one of the most influential bands in the field of Electronic Music
. However, their mainstream success has been modest at best (a few hits on the dance music charts during The Eighties
). The impact of "Skuppy
" comes primarily from the amount of artists they in turn have influenced.
The band was formed when Kevin Crompton (a.k.a. cEvin Key), drummer for the Synth Pop
band Images In Vogue, got bored with making Synth Pop
and wanted to make new and groundbreaking Electronic Music
. He got his friend Kevin Ogilvie (a.k.a. Nivek Ogre), to provide vocals. Along the way, various other members have provided the role of third member, such as Bill Leeb (who went on to form Front Line Assembly
), and most famously Dwayne Rudolph Goettel (who died of a heroin overdose in the mid-90s, causing the band to break up for almost a decade), and most recently Mark Walk.Skinny Puppy
are widely considered the band responsible for the more popular vibe Industrial
has today, as opposed earlier Industrial, which was largely inaccessible to the average audience. Basically, they took the experimental and bizzare approach pioneered by bands such as Throbbing Gristle
and applied it to almost-entirely electronic music. Unsurprisingly, their first releases, "Remission" and "Bites" (their first full album, released in 1985), sounded like experimental, angry Synth Pop
. Think of Skinny Puppy
for Synth Pop
) + Throbbing Gristle
)" and you'll have a good idea of what they sound like.Skinny Puppy
were not the first band to take Throbbing Gristle's attitude and approach Electronic Music
with it. Arguably, Throbbing Gristle did this (albeit their work was more eclectic and less electronic than Skinny Puppy's), and Cabaret Voltaire (as well as many other acts associated with early 80's Synth Pop
) did it as well. But Skinny Puppy
took these ideas into much Darker and Edgier
territory and were easily the most influential partly because they had a truly gruesome stage act and never refrained from the use of Nightmare Fuel
The band's second album, "Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse," added Dwayne Goettel to the lineup. Goettel was a classically-trained keyboardist who also had a knack for extremely demented synthesizer and sampler programming. This is the classic lineup that defined the band during their golden age.
Their output was released on the Nettwerk record label and managed to influence a very large number of artists. One of these artists was Trent Reznor, who decided to combine Skinny Puppy's style with heavy riffs and rock-style vocals and lyrics (and, at times, increased use of guitars). The result was Nine Inch Nails
. Trent Reznor himself acknowledges his inspiration, and the song "Down In It" off of "Pretty Hate Machine" is very similar to Skinny Puppy's "Dig It" from "Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse." At one point in Trent's early career, Nine Inch Nails
was the opening act for Skinny Puppy
In 1989, Skinny Puppy released the album "Rabies," which was (upon release) considered a New Sound Album
because it contained metal-style guitar riffs on three tracks, courtesy of Ministry
's Al Jourgensen (who had struck up a friendship with Nivek Ogre when the two bands were touring together). In hindsight however, most Skinny Puppy
fans have got over the 'surprise' and embraced the album, partly because the song "Worlock" is considered one of Skinny Puppy's Crowning Moments
and to this day remains one of their Signature Songs
. Unfortunately, it was during this era that Al introduced the band to heroin.
In 1990, the band released "Too Dark Park," which is arguably considered their artistic high point by the majority of their fans. The album is not the most
bizzare and inaccessible of their works (that honor is reserved for 1988's "VIVIsectVI" (pronounced "Vivisect Six")), but it manages to approach it, with tighter songwriting, catchy basslines, and surprising sonic range that went from pure Mind Rape
rhythmic noise (songs like "Convulsion") to dark ambient (like "Reclamation") to danceable, melodic and bizarre industrial (like "Tormentor") to darker and more minimal industrial (like "Nature's Revenge") to going between all these various different styles within the same song
(like "Shore Lined Poison").
In 1996, the band suffered Creator Breakdown
after switching to a new label. They released what was believed to be their final album, "The Process" (a Concept Album
about a psychotherapy cult known as the Process Church of Final Judgement), after Dwayne Goettel's fondness for heroin caught up with him and left him as a corpse at his parents' house.
In the early 2000's, Skuppy did a one-off reformation show in Dresden at that "Doomsday" festival. The two Kevins performed in front of a screaming crowd of goths and rivetheads; they left a spare spot on stage for Dwayne out of respect. This reformation resulted in new albums; 2004's "The Greater Wrong Of The Right" followed by 2008's "Mythmaker", 2011's much delayed "hanDover", which incorporated more minimalist IDM elements, and 2013's "Weapon".
Tropes Applicable To Skinny Puppy
- The Band Minus the Face: Subverted during their live reunion in Dresden; it was The Band Minus The Keyboardist.
- Canon Discontinuity: The "Too Dark Park" backing videos: the band made 14 high quality music videos songs performed on the "Too Dark Park" tour, most of which were songs that lacked an official video. Many fans consider the videos (God Gift Maggot, Tin Omen, etc) to be official music videos for said songs, a view not shared by the band sadly.
- Concept Album: The Process is about a religious cult called The Process Church Of Final Judgement. Last Rights is a loose concept album based around life and death as well.
- Darker and Edgier: The basic concept of their work is Darker and Edgier (in the sense of being more bizarre and experimental) Synth Pop.
- '80s Hair: Yes.
- Epic Rocking: The live noise jam "Spahn Dirge" is 16 1/2 minutes long. The final track on Last Rights, "Download", while not really so an example of rocking due to the fact that it's mostly ambient, certainly is epic at eleven minutes long. Puppy Gristle also falls into this territory. 40 minutes.
- Follow the Leader: The Lighter and Softer sound of The Process was intended by American Recordings to capitalize on the success of Nine Inch Nails.
- Freudian Trio: Especially in this interview, it's easy to see Ogre as The McCoy, cEvin as The Spock and Dwayne as The Kirk.
- Gaia's Vengeance: Nature's Revenge
- Gorn: The stage show and most of the music videos. And sometimes the lyrics.
- Harsh Vocals: The growling, raspy sound of Ogre's voice arguably counts, helped by the indecipherableness of most of it. And they were doing it a while before Metal bands were, to boot.
- Hemo Erotic: Their live shows often involve quite a bit of that, yes.
- Improv: A frequently-used compositional technique. Often done on drugs in a process the band called "Brap."
- Indecipherable Lyrics: And HOW!
- Instrumentals: "Riverz," "Stairs And Flowers," other examples.
- Last Note Nightmare: Inverted with the album Last Rights. The majority of the album is dissonant, terrifying industrial noise, but the last several minutes of the song "Download" (the last song on the album) are serene ambient music that you could probably sleep to.
- Lighter and Softer: Arguably their best songs, "Pro-Test," "Testure," "Nature's Revenge" are all more accessible than the majority of their songs and these songs are generally fan favorites.
- The Process and The Greater Wrong of the Right combine this with New Sound Album.
- Mind Rape: What many of their songs can induce.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: They stay on the higher single-digit levels of the scale, their range being 6-to-9. Their harder songs can easily go up to 11, though.
- Mood Whiplash: "Scrapyard" has a break in the song with a sample from the move Uncle Buck of Buck getting beaned by a bowling ball. And then the song restarts in all its nightmarish glory.
- Mr. Fanservice: Nivek Ogre in a nutshell.
- New Sound Album: "Rabies" was originally seen as one, but now isn't. "The Greater Wrong Of The Right" is one however.
- One Steve Limit: Averted. The band has two Kevins.
- Phrase Salad Lyrics: if a song isn't outright Word Salad Lyrics, it's this. "Smothered Hope" is a good example.
- Protest Song: Tons of them.
- Pun-Based Title: Frequently. "Lust Chance", Last Rights, "Knowhere?", most of the songs from The Greater Wrong of the Right (even the album title is one!), VIVIsectVI (an association of vivisection with 666), etc.
- Real Men Eat Meat: Inverted with Key. Ogre was vegetarian until health issues forced him to incorporate meat back into his diet.
- Sampling: Of any bizarre sound (but rarely other songs). Said sample is then warped to be made even more insane, then is spliced together with all the nasty bits from various Italian horror films, THEN a drumbeat and bassline are added, THEN you have a Skinny Puppy song.
- Scary Musician, Harmless Music: Zig Zagged. Their appearance is frightening, but their rig appears harmless... until they play it. On the other hand, Ogre is a legitimately nice person.
- Sdrawkcab Alias: Nivek Ogre.
- Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Subverted, in that they're more Drugs Drugs And Industrial. Deconstructed tragically when Dwayne Goettel died of a heroin overdose. This deconstruction is subverted in a blackly comic fashion by the fact Goettel's overdose occurred at his parents' house rather than in an expensive hotel room or a supermodel's bedroom. One of Us indeed.
- Stage Names: Kevin Crompton = cEvin Key, Kevin Ogilvie = Nivek Ogre
- Stock Scream: A somewhat common female scream is used in the track "Brap" on Remission.
- Surreal Music Video: All of their music videos are this as well as terrifying.
- Theremin: Occasionally one of these is used.
- Torture Cellar: Skinny Puppy is the soundtrack for locales such as these.
- Updated Re-release: The standalone CD of Bites features several avant-garde instrumental tracks not found on the original LP; these were originally composed under the name "Hell-O Death Day" and performed as an opening act of Chris and Cosey.
- Video Full Of Film Clips: "Worlock."
- Word Salad Lyrics: All the time, the worst offender being "Worlock".
- X Meets Y: Their sound is arguably Throbbing Gristle meets Kraftwerk.